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Petrotrin’s refinery gates won’t be closed immediately on October 1 - there’ll be a phased exit of employees starting with the refinery.
Government and the company’s board had set October 1 as the target date for refinery closure and the start of a restructuring of the company.
The jobs of almost 4,800 permanent and temporary/casual employees will all be affected, particularly 1,700 refinery posts. Workers will eventually have to reapply for jobs in a restructured Exploration and Production division which will be Petrotrin’s new focus.
Notes to Petrotrin’s August 2018 financial statements showed the company recorded a net profit after tax of $83.2 million for last month. Exploration and Production, including Trinmar, recorded a net profit of $20.5 million - but Refining and Marketing recorded a net loss of $7.5 million.
A Petrotrin Board memo, acknowledging the uncertainty and anxiety regarding the restructuring plans and the October 1 date, stated: “We want to underscore October 1 marks the start of the transition period and isn’t the last day of work for every Petrotrin employee.
“The timing and duration of the transition is going to be determined by our ability to do it smoothly, efficiently and safely over the next few months.”
The memo added, “We are in the process of implementing the most practical approach to transition the company without negatively affecting the business. It would be impractical to have a single hard-stop date.”
Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet told T&T Guardian last Friday that all Petrotrin doors won’t be closed October 1 in a hard and fast way. He said that wasn’t possible since the company hadn’t yet had a chance to have “meaningful discussions to present things” properly to the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union.
Espinet said the board meets the OWTU on Thursday.
“We can’t do anything until we’ve met. There has to be a process for refinery closure. The board will pursue this in a way to be the least disruptive to ensure fuel supplies aren’t affected,” Espinet said.
“October 1 was a target date so there’ll be a phased exit of people based on what is required to conduct a safe and orderly transition. So all doors won’t close October 1.”
Indicating the refinery will be phased out first, he added, “We’ve already begun the process of making sure it will be conducted in the least disruptive way so supplies won’t be disturbed.”
Energy Minister Franklin Khan recently said the decommissioning of the refinery is expected to be completed by December. He said one couldn’t flick a switch and close refinery aspects all in one day and certain areas had to be turned off with preservation plans in place.
The board’s memo also stated that details on compensation and benefits are “currently being finalised.”
“These will be communicated as soon as soon as they have been completed. We do not want to provide approximations or any other information that is not completely accurate. This will only lead to greater uncertainty,” the memo said.
The memo stated Petrotrin’s Employee Assistance Services is also providing psychological help, financial counselling and advice for a period of six months.
“We are particularly sensitive about the increase in stress and anxiety that loss of employment may cause.”
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